Journal of Surgical Simulation 2018; 5: A: 3 - 3

Published: 11 September 2018


Oral presentation

Special Issue: Happiness and resilience in the NHS

Ernie Reid
Corresponding author: Ernie Reid, NHS Elect, Suite 2, Adam House, 7-10 Adam Street, London WC2N 6AA, UK. Email:


NHS Elect is a not-for-profit alternative to traditional models of management consultancy. In 2013 two of our Directors participated in a collaboration with colleagues from the airlines, telecommunications and disaster relief sectors focusing on “Resilience”. They were looking for practical, evidence-based approaches which employers and employees could use to buttress and repair our sense of “bounce-back-ability”. Lengthy research led to experiments on themselves, colleagues, friends and family members. That, in turn became a set of workshops, coaching interventions and consulting projects on organisational culture which allowed us to test (and sometimes break) our theories in service of making workplaces and the people who work in them happier and more productive.

We are interested in three aspects of resilience: theory, application and ethics. Useful theories about what can rebuild or maintain resilience have emerged not only from the field of “positive psychology” but also from older traditions of mindfulness, stoicism and new disciplines like behavioural economics. Once you know what makes for resilience, the problem is how to build it in yourself and your team. Work on adult behaviour change, habit formation and sports psychology, all points towards some consistent messages: focus your efforts, identify triggers, script substitute behaviours, control your circumstances when possible, and roll with the punches when you must. Finally; there is the ethical element. Ignoring bleak or toxic situations helps no one. Conversely if you create a damaging working environment your staff’s denuded resilience is a symptom and you may be the root cause. If you manage stress by making colleagues, subordinates or patients miserable, you are the walking equivalent of a dripping tap or persistent drilling in the next office; an irksome environmental annoyance that makes everyone else’s day feel twice as long. Taking responsibility for making your bit of the workplace better is the first step.



resilience; happiness;NHS; workplace

Additional Information

This presentation was given at the 7th Annual Homerton Simulation Conference: Novel thinking and new technology in healthcare and education, Homerton University Hospital, London, UK, on 7 December 2017.

Abstract based on an MSc project by Farrar, Fleet, Keenan & Timpson

Conflicts of interest: none declared.